My Interfaith Marriage


It was at The Village Restaurant in Litchfield, Connecticut. August 2001.

He had a head full of floppy auburn curls, a plaid button down shirt and a sparkle in his eye that threw me for a loop. He was a private school math teacher, football and wrestling coach and was from Massachusetts. I was instantly head over heels, enamored, smitten. I couldn’t find anything wrong with him. I looked, listened and finally relaxed, knowing this was the first of many future dates.

We were getting to know each other that night. I told him about my family, my upbringing and my aspirations. He did the same. He also mentioned he was Jewish, but that fact blew by me like a soft, New England breeze. After all, I was a 22 year old girl from a small town in Upstate New York. I had gone to college in my hometown which allowed some exposure to people of other cultures and religions, but not much. Most of the people I grew up with either went to St. Francis Church or St. Stephen’s Church. It just depended which one you lived closer to. The only Jewish people I knew (and one of the few Jewish families in my town) lived one street over from us and they didn’t celebrate Christmas. Big whoop.

When Adam mentioned that he was Jewish, I’m sure he expected a reaction. He didn’t get one. I was Catholic and this adorable person across from me in the dim, brick walled restaurant was not. I didn’t see the issue then and fourteen years later, I still don’t. But what has happened in between that August day in Litchfield, and this August day in Baltimore (religion wise), hasn’t been easy. We have faced adversity and confusion, questions about faith in general and what it would mean to our family, our children.

Adam and I have always done what we’ve thought best. We don’t always think everything through and we have accepted this about ourselves. Everything that has happened to us has ultimately turned out for the best. Remember my previous post about the sun always coming out? We’ve weathered some pretty strong storms, but the sun has always smiled on us after the storm passed.

We did not choose a religion for our children. We discussed – from day one – raising them “to be good people.” When they were first born, I wrestled with this decision. My college roommate Lisa married an awesome guy I happened to know from childhood. She converted to Judaism and they are raising their son to know the Torah. I have often thought that perhaps that would be the easiest thing. Maybe then the world would leave us alone and stop asking us “what we were going to do.” Adam is fine raising them to know both religions, but it would be a battle to get him to have our daughters identify only as Catholic, dismissing the Jewish heritage that flows through their veins. We’ve thought about having them “blessed” by a “neutral” person. My mom, I know, would love to see them baptized. For years I’ve felt like a sinking ship. On guilty Sundays, I’d drag them to church, armed with goldfish and coloring pads. They’d whisper too loud, drop the hymnal, have to go to the bathroom. I’ve been wrapped in a tornado of “we need to decide” and “you need to decide” feelings. Meanwhile, I was losing at life on many levels and religion got pushed to that every present back burner.

God has blessed me with a family, an education, a car, a roof over my head, and so on. God has also given me quite a few bumpy roads to navigate in my 36 1/2 years. I have cursed God, I have questioned Him but I have always, always come back to Him when I was at my bottom(s). I am completely in awe of God and what he does each and every day for me, for my family, for the world. Joyce Meyer stated that “No matter what you’re going through there’s no pit so deep that God can’t reach in and get you out.” I want to run up and down the street chanting this. I want to stand on my room and scream it to the world. It is what I believe.

Our daughters are 363 days apart. Any parent with “two under two” (actually, make that any parent), can relate to the chaos of babyhood. Adam and I did make a point of  teaching them to pray before they ate, pray when they heard an ambulance and to thank God for their basic needs being met. They went to a Jewish pre-school and know that Daddy is Jewish and Mommy took them to church twice. Now that God and I are like this (fingers crossed), I am embracing what Adam and I decided a long time ago. Remember the part about raising them to be good people? Our family’s religion is Kindness. Our love for God guides us to give water bottles to homeless people. Our love for God means we thank Him each night before bed for the roof over our head and the clothes on our back and meals in our bellies. Our love for God guides us to encourage others to make the right choices and to ask for forgiveness when we make mistakes. Our love for God means we are grateful and we write thank you notes and use kind words. As our children grow, Adam and I will let them decide how they want to channel their Kindness. I pray each day that God keep my children healthy and kind. I do not pray that they not know pain or confusion or loss, because ultimately, these have been God’s greatest gifts to me. They were just wrapped up in ugly paper.

God is a huge part of our lives here in Mayerville. He is discussed regularly and He is known. Are our children baptized? They are not. Will they be Bat Mitzvahed (did I spell that right?)? I am guessing no. Will my children be kind and fair people? I am confident they will.

Faith and religion, I’ve learned, are deeply personal life choices everyone has the right to make. God has His hands wrapped around my life and I trust that He knows what He is doing. My religion is kindness, and my girls witness this each day. It’s not inside of a church or synagogue. It’s at the stop light on Reisterstown Road on a hot day. It’s in the form of a water bottle and sandwich. It’s inside the book that I’m reading with the word “God” on the front. It’s in me talking about God every time something good (and not so good) happens.

It’s not perfect, and it’s messy. But it’s who we are.

About the writer

Molly Hanna Mayer age: 37 Grew up in Geneva, NY, Learning Specialist at a private school in Baltimore. Married for 12 years and proud mom of two daughters ages 6 and 7. Find her at Never Healthier, Never Happier and on Facebook, too.

From Around the Web


Ladybug 10 months ago

This was an interesting article. I am surprised the author focused only on the religious differences and not any of the cultural aspects/differences or issues of antisemitism/being a minority that do shape people. I am a Jew married to another Jew so we celebrate the Jewish holidays and have similar ethnic backgrounds. However, prior to my marriage I dated many non-Jews and had cohabitated with a Catholic man. The Catholic man and I may not have had too many ethical/ value differences but there were cultural differences. We discussed children and it was stressful figuring out what to do–I had to explain why things were important to me, which would have been a no-brainer for a Jewish person. I felt almost like I would have been pressured to go to synagogue even though I am not particularly religious but rather more spiritual or culturally Jewish–just to prove that being Jewish mattered to me. Also, he wanted the kids to choose the religion but how do they do that before adult age and to me, it is not just about religion but it was about them having a Jewish identity too. Also, when the US is Christian, how would I be able to teach the kids enough anout Judaism to balance out all they would learn just by being American about Christianity. Because i am not “religious” it made it seem to him like my religion didnt matter — but it was quite the opposite in that my Judaism comes through in more cultural and social aspects than attending services or following all the rules. In addition, his mom would make antisemetic remarks that would make me question if I would ever be fully accepted by his family. Ultimately we broke up — but not because of religion.
My now husband who is Jewish shares a certain sense of humor and perspective on the world that I think comes in part because of our cultural Jewish identity. This is not to say it couldn’t happen across religions and cultures, but there is some type of kinship I feel with him that it is hard to explain. He also has a bit of the understanding that comes from being a minority that it is typically harder to explain to someone who is the majority and doesn’t have to worry about being accepted by all. This is especially helpful as we navigate having kids (our first is two and more are on the way).
Two people from any religion or culture could get along beautifully and have awesome kids–but there are identity, cultural and religious differences that may need to be negotiated and I wonder why the author didnt mention those too in this article.

George Lyang 1 year ago

Amazing story. Thanks.

Lesley 1 year ago

Karen – are you me in a parallel universe??? I am so grateful/relieved to find someone in the same situation I am! It is so challenging, isn’t it? Just knowing you exist makes me feel better. Thank you for posting.

Elisa Martin 1 year ago

I can’t tell you how good this made me feel. I cried. I love this. My religion is kindness.

joan 1 year ago

I’m a 57 year old who was a product of an interfaith marriage. I can tell you as the product not the ‘producer’, the issue is much bigger than the questions parents have to field. The real issue is squarely with the kids. My parents raised me and my brother to be good people, to be ethical and kind. However, they didn’t figure on how being ‘nothing’ might affect us growing up.

From my First Grade vantage point, I wasn’t like any of my classmates. I wasn’t having a First Communion and I wasn’t being Consecrated. I can tell you its hard for a kid to be different, especially when it is a little esoteric. I’m sure it seems fairly harmless, but to a child who wants to ‘belong’ it can be hell. We all want our kids to feel confident and this seemingly small identity issue can rattle a kid’s confidence.

I converted to Judaism as an adult and raised my three amazing kids (now adults) to be good people, to be ethical and kind. We chose to live in a diverse community with lots of faiths and ethnicities. They are respectful of others beliefs, as well as future and sexual orientation. They are good Citizens of the World. However, they always knew who they were and had a view of the world. Regardless of their level of observance or religiosity, they have always known they were Jews.

Many think interfaith is as simple as Santa Claus and Christmas, but if one understands their faith whatever that might be, it becomes more complex as life unfolds. Take the birth of a baby…the author’s mother would love to see her grandchildren baptized because in her faith, they came into the world with original sin. However the Jewish grandparents see those babies as a blank sheets of paper, but they need a Hebrew name for them to be called by God. Then there is death….a very difficult topic for a child, compounded by very different traditions and beliefs about how we mourn and what happens after death.

My boys stood sadly next to me as we buried our beloved Catholic Grandmother/Great Grandmother. We mourned her death as Jews and remembered her beautiful life as a devout Catholic.

These are very simplistic Judeo-Christain examples. When you expand the equation to include other faiths, the differences get more and more complex. There is no ‘right’ answer, however as parents we need to pick/provide a path for our children. They may choose another path for themselves as they get older, but then it is their choice.

I hope the author tries to stand in her kids shoes, it is a much different view from down there.

Mom22Tweens 1 year ago

Relax, Lisa. I’m in a Jewish-Christian marriage and I didn’t find Karen’s comment offensive at all. :-) I’m just thankful we live in a country where such marriages are allowed and accepted, if not complicated!

Joemi 1 year ago

I’m so lucky we are both atheis.

Linda Sadler Pritz 1 year ago

You said it right, “YOUR FAITH”!, Not mine, not hers and not his!

Julie Love 1 year ago

I have been enlightened and believe that is what God wants us to be. Good People helping each other.

Amber Nicole 1 year ago

You are a wonderful and open minded mother! Good for you! <3

Caitlin 1 year ago

DH and I are both Christians, but with very different backgrounds. I was blessed to be raised in a church that still remembered its Jewish roots enough to have been to many Seders, while DH approaches everything through concrete science and is sickened by most of the “Christians” in our local Bible Belt community. While religion has become a touchy subject more than once regarding our DS, the idea that we don’t want him growing up into a douchbag some guy will want to shoot before letting his daughter date we have never disagreed on. This article was just what I needed to read, so thank you for posting. I know my situation isn’t exactly like yours, but it gives me hope that my family can survive being different even though we are surrounded by people that may not agree with our style.

Emily 1 year ago

I have been married for 20 years to an Italian Catholic and I am Jewish. We have three kids and have raised them as “both” which I suppose also means neither. We celebrate all the major holidays – Christmas, Hanukah, Easter, Passover and we try to teach them the history of both religions. One of the best things we did when the kids were younger was join a group called “Interfaith Community” which is an organization that provides a safe and neutral place for interfaith families to connect, whether they have chosen to follow one religion or not. Please google it and see if there is a chapter in your area. Forget about the people who ask, “what are you doing?” because they just don’t get it. There is no one right way and each family figures it out. For example, I had no interest in having a bris for my sons, but when my husband said a baptism was important to him, we ended up having BOTH a bris and a baptism for each of our sons because it felt like the right thing to do. Having supportive extended families is a huge help too. My kids are now 10, 14, and 16 and they are very comfortable “being both” and aren’t confused or resentful. I love how you say Kindness is your religion — makes perfect sense to me. :)

Ron Wentz 1 year ago

I have two wonderful Sons. When my oldest was 7 my mother died two years after my father. Our parish priest who had refused to travel 18 miles to visit my mother (at her request) on her death bed wanted my brother and I to ignore her will to bequest donations to an Abbey in Wisconsin that had answered her prays to have prays said for her soul ! He wanted that MONEY for his Parish ! My reaction(after taking collection after a number of years) ended quite abruptly with the Catholic Church. I raised my sons by the Golden Rule. I’m sure they got sick of hearing. ” How would you feel if someone did that to you!” But it seemed to be successful business person & and
One is a Christian Minister

Hilary Singer Jacques 1 year ago

I am Jewish and my husband is Christian. We have a 1 year old daughter together and he has an 8 year old daughter with his ex wife and the child is being raised as a Christian. I love this article and can definitely relate to its message. My mother recently voiced her disappointment that my daughter never had a baby naming ceremony and it opened up a huge can of worms!

Lisa 1 year ago

Seriously? Try not being an arse. Everyone is in different positions with different issues that may seem negligible to others. Maybe you should read it again and understand what is being said, not what is written. Are you really playing ‘my religious differences/difficulties are worse than yours’? This is why idiots are killing each other.

Ayla Ervin 1 year ago

Good for you

Stacy Greene Pearce 1 year ago

The journey of raising children in an interfaith household is a UNIQUE journey – every family will do it differently in a way that works for them. There is no right or wrong way to do this! I am a Jewish mom raising two amazing boys with a Christian husband – and while it may seem hard to understand for the outside, the way we do it works for our family and we’re proud of it!

Conclusively Candor 1 year ago

I love this article. I grew up to love God and have undying faith, but I was not raised to have a specific religion.

Sara Gremlin 1 year ago

Talk about embracing the words of the Bible. We are called to act with Justice, to love tenderly, to walk with each and walk humbly with God. Sounds like this is what this family is doing.

Claudia Schink 1 year ago

I love this!If every Parent would teach their children this,we would have no religious conflicts!

Jill Christensen 1 year ago

And at no time did I say all…there are wonderful people in my church and some that are not so wonderful. .as I’m sure there are in each congregation. .I just know that my faith and my belief in God doesn’t differ whether I’m in a pew on Sunday or not.

Vanessa Janik 1 year ago

Going to church doesn’t make you religious. Unless you believe that you can work your way to heaven. If you think that by memorizing bible verses & being a “good Christian” or whatever it is you practice is going to win over God than you’re religious. But if you go to church because you like it.. Because you want to fellowship & worship w/other believers, you want/need support of other ppl walking the walking of faith & grace.. Well that’s different. In the bible it says, “when two or more are gathered in my name I am there w/them.” I don’t think that means that God is not w/you when you are alone or that you necessarily have to go to a church building..I think it means there is power in numbers. I’ve learned how to be a leader & serve others through my church. It’s not about being religious. Hypocrites are everywhere but there are also ppl just like you & me sitting in the churches.

Heather Paish 1 year ago

We do not believe in any higher power. We are raising our child to see the kindness in people. The value of community. The respect for life. And the wonder of nature. No god(s) required.

Molly Hanna Mayer 1 year ago

We celebrate Christmas and Passover! Good people…the world can always use more Good People!

Samantha Shay Epstein 1 year ago

I’m Catholic and my husband is Jewish. We were married in a Catholic Church with both a priest and a Jewish cantor. It was so beautiful! Our children are being raised Catholic but we celebrate the Jewish high holidays too. When people question if the kids will be confused, we tell them that The kids celebrate the same holidays that Jesus did!

Kelsey Hanzely 1 year ago

Love this post! The author of this post was simply stating what works for HER family and household with the more than one faith, which a lot of us can relate to. I really like her perspective that sometimes it’s more about how we raise our children to be than the label that’s put on them

Jaime Bacine 1 year ago

Raising good children, and believing and teaching them about God is nothing? I think this is a beautiful article. I hate religious boundaries and labels. Yet another unnecessary thing in this world to divide people.

Shawn Lisa Nolan 1 year ago


Amanda Orozco 1 year ago

This has never been an issue when raising my kids. My husband is an atheist…like me. My oldest goes to church with a friend, and thats great. He loves it and chose it for himself. I never wanted to push.

Helen Russo 1 year ago

It kind of amazes me that many are so critical. This works for them. I don’t see them raising their children not knowing God. He’s in everything we say and do, and even as a practicing Catholic, I realize that God sees how I behave and cares more about that than whether or not my butt’s in mass every week.

Jules 1 year ago

Thank you!!! I was raised in Kindness as well. DH was raised Catholic but doesn’t practice. He wanted to have our kids go to Mass more because he was forced to rather than any feeling of devotion. I told him he would do it alone because I would not force any religion on my child but rather show them all the options and let their hearts guide them. He agreed and we turned out to have incredibly empathetic children, I have a feeling Kindness will be their choice too.

Tracey Atkinson Cohen 1 year ago

I loved this post. It’s nice seeing that we are not alone in our beliefs. Kindness will prevail!

Lorraine Marie 1 year ago

I have no faith or belief and my husband is catholic. Kindness always prevails.

Kimberly Whitcher 1 year ago

Kindness :) I like it I feel as though everyone wants you to be one thing or another I dnt believe i or my children need to be packaged into a box. I am a good person and I have a relationship with god it doesn’t involve Sundays but it works for me

BellaBefana 1 year ago

Sounds like you’re getting it right to me.

Renee Galazka Yass 1 year ago

I’m catholic and my husband Muslim . We celebrate Christian and Muslim holidays . Why not ? Best of both worlds! We are just raising our kids to be good kind human beings and to love and accept everyone.

Aimee Vanduyne 1 year ago

Not that anyone asked for advice but may I suggest Unitarian Universalist? They accept people of all faiths, are taught to respect all religions, and have a beautiful sense of community and social justice.

Alicia 1 year ago

“I do not pray that they not know pain or confusion or loss, because ultimately, these have been God’s greatest gifts to me. They were just wrapped up in ugly paper.”

Thank you for articulating this idea so perfectly. I too have received many amazing gifts wrapped in ugly paper. I pray your family will always recognize those gifts.

Luna 1 year ago

This one is tough. From the get-go I knew my kids would be raised Catholic and anyone who disagreed would simply not be the right person for me. They were baptised and go to Catholic preschool and will progress in the same catholic school. However Im doing it alone, which is basically as “Un-catholic” as someone can get so in a lot of ways I identify. We work to be kind and loving. We donate a bag of clothes and toys before every major holiday. I have somehow figured out how to manage a one and two year old in a soup kitchen. We shop for our elderly neighbors and drive her to our appointments. But I feel like a fraud.

Jess Lynne 1 year ago

I don’t get what’s so hard about raising kids in a home with multiple religions. What I find difficult is raising kids in our Atheist home with folks who have terrible misconceptions about Atheism trying to indoctrinate our kids with their beliefs before they’re old enough to comprehend any of it.

Jill Christensen 1 year ago

Sitting in a church or synagouge no more makes you a good christian or a good jew than standing in a garage makes you a car….they are raising their children to be good, kind, caring people who believe in God. I have faith, believe in God and was raised Lutheran. I don’t go to church very often…some of the most judgemental, most shallow and most cruel people I know sit in the front pew every Sunday…religion can easily ruin faith…

Rochele Anderson 1 year ago

God is good all the time and All the time God is good!

Stephanie F-s 1 year ago

My husband is Jewish and I am Catholic. We respect eachother’s religions and try to expose our son to both. It’s the same God, and I think it’s good my son is exposed to 2 religions.

Jennifer Sinnett 1 year ago

Um why can’t you do both all I’m hearing is guilt why can’t one week be dad’s church and one week be moms church actually show them both religions and let them choose and stop feeling guilty for the kids making noise at church that’s what kids do

Tricia 1 year ago

I have the same situation as you! I am catholic my husband is Jewish. We have 4 kids. All 4 of them have been baptized and had a naming and or bris. We did both. Hey they are double blessed! We stopped there though. No communion , conformation no bar/bat mitzvah . They were told as they grow up they can choose one religion or practice both, so far they are choosing both. Our daughters are 20 and 3. our 2 boys are 15 and 11. We are very happy with our decision even though some family members question it and say “you can’t do both!” Well we are and it works for us!

Ellen Darlene 1 year ago

I was told by a family member (while 7 months pregnant at my mothers funeral) that if my husband didn’t change his beliefs we will never be together in heaven. Bless her heart, I know it was out of care and concern but when it comes to issues like this, opinions are best kept to yourself unless specifically asked. We believe in the religion of Kindness as well.

Kim Hatten 1 year ago

Wonderfully said! We are also doing the same ☺️

Jessica Collins 1 year ago

Loved this post.

Jessica Collins 1 year ago

“So the kids have something and not nothing”? So raising them to be good people is nothing?

Megan Fennell 1 year ago

This sounds like this isn’t so much an interfaith family as a family with a lack of religion. Interfaith implies both religions are being blended; it sounds here like neither is being practiced. We are a Catholic-Jewish family too, but that means Passover seders happen the same week we go to grandma’s for Easter. We decided to raise the girls as Jewish, so we do the Jewish preschool and the Jewish holidays are celebrated at home. Daddy has a small Christmas tree because it’s his family tradition, and we do the big family celebrations at Christmas and Easter. The girls and I go to Mass with the rest of the family at the holidays (but the three of us stay behind at communion). I understand where she’s coming from, but would gently suggest talking to either his rabbi or her priest to get advice on how to blend the family so the kids have something and not nothing.

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 1 year ago

My parents are of two different religions my mom was Muslim my dad protestant… Thy got married in united Nations in a non religious ceremony, we got to choose our own religions…. I have chosen to be Catholic I went through all my trainings and everything… My husband is a cradle catholic which means he was a catholic by force and believes in nothing except that something exists…. I have to bribe him to go to church which is terrible example for the kids. We’ve agreed to raise our kids as open minded catholics… As in their aware this is what we are but also have to be aware of the other religions and beliefs and accept them as the norm as well… It hasn’t been too messy just because I tell them all religions have one thing in common they are suppose to help guide you to be better people. It’s not easy but it can be done successfully if both parents are on the same page.

Amanda Adams 1 year ago

I was praying for an article like this, and God answers prayers. Thank you!

Kendel Windsor Schinzel 1 year ago

Messianic Jew?!?!

Stephanie Corringham 1 year ago

Amazing – thank you for this. Couldn’t agree more!

Tricia Lyn 1 year ago

Love this!!

Karen 1 year ago

Seriously? Doesn’t sound like much of a problem. Try being an atheist married to a muslim. So much fun.


Enjoying this? Then like us on Facebook